I wrote an article nearly a full year ago on why Digg.com was failing. Turns out that I was a little off. I still think it is failing and will fail without major changes. Some of the same reasons still apply for why as well.
- Duplication of stories: There are reporting mechanisms to report duplication of stories that have already been submitted, but they are very rarely used. Also, the “need” to get your submission listed on the front page and a higher rating based on how many of your stories have made it onto the front page, creates a environment that is widely abused.
- Moderation: Or the lack thereof. The idea is that the community will moderate itself. A side sect of digg users that most have dubbed “Digg Police” do perform some of these tasks, but to an extreme. However, the users as a whole must use the moderation abilities for it to work and they don’t so the sites self moderation does not work.
- Abuses: Because of the duplication of stories and the lack of moderation, other abuses run rampant. The effect is that a user of Digg.com must filter through multiple duplicate postings and useless attempts at moderation.
There is still quite a bit of duplication, but digg did add more functional moderation abilities and with digg amassing over 500k users the moderation has become quite a bit quicker. There is also still a rather rampant bunch of abuses. The latest of which is the “gaming digg” fiasco followed closely by the fallout from the Calacanis/Netscape paid users fiasco.
At its most basic what we’ve learned is that the top 1% of these community members deserve to get compensated for their time, and if you do compensate them they will be 1,000% more active and appreciative. Paying them isn’t about the money as much as it is the recognition, and they are so psyched to be recognized that they will really go overboard in thanking you with very high-quality work. The Netscape Navigators are doing a phenomenal job of not only putting in good stories, but also of building a community. They talk to the users via site mail and explain to them how to participate. They let them know when they’ve made a mistake and how to fix it. They are mentors and leaders in the best sense of those words.
I’ve been on the fence so to speak on the paying users until now. I think Calacanis hit the nail on the head. At some point someone was going to do it or the users were going to realize that all the “work” they were putting into bookmarking was doing nothing more than making the sites rich and not the user. What Calacanis and Netscape have done is woken a sleeping giant of sorts. It won’t be much longer now before all the users are demanding pay.
So, Kevin Rose, if you’re reading this, here’s my proposal. Pay everybody. Make it relative to the number of submissions they submit that make it to the home page. You thought digg was getting gamed before… That would seal the deal. Dead Digg. Nevermind.
There really isn’t a very good answer. Calacanis seems to have a slight advantage, but there are still problems with his model as well. How does paying the top 1% differ from having a news producer telling you what the news is? It loses a modicum of it’s social aspect. No longer is it about a social mass finding the latest and greatest news and promoting it because it’s good, it’s about the “Navigators” and what they find interesting. Their public image and new-found celebrity make just about anything that they add to the site a front page item.
No, there isn’t any obvious fix. When you really stop to think about it, there really can be no true social sites. Corruption and greed will always win out. It’s human nature. Why do you think that Socialism never took off as a governmental method? Ideologically, the social structure is good, but corruption and greed will kill it for us all every time.